THE BLOG
08/16/2007 03:52 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Being Jose Padilla

Now that a U.S. citizen has been convicted of being a "terrorist," one can only hope that his treatment in the brig, which has been declared a "state secret," will be declassified so that it may see the light of day in appeals court which is where this case is heading.

Psychologists, and those who have visited with Jose Padilla over the past three plus years of his incarceration say that they see profound emotional wreckage as a result of his detention. Regardless of whether Mr. Padilla's treatment can be tweaked such that it conforms with his constitutional entitlements, as an American, there is no way in hell that anyone can justify turning an otherwise healthy 36 year old into the shell of a man. If the treatment he received at the hands of his captors is ethical and aboveboard, then why is it classified?

Clearly, too, the time has come to put the entire infrastructure of an illegal, and ominous so-called war on terror on trial, and show that those who maim, humiliate, kill, and psychologically torture in the name of counterfeit, homogenized purity are the true terrorists.

Padilla's conviction would not have been possible were it not for more than 300,000 FBI "wiretap intercepts" (AP) of conversations, many of which took place in Arabic.

Yesterday in a courtroom in San Francisco, the Electronic Frontier Foundation continued their fight against telecommunications behemoth AT&T for its assault on the Fourth Amendment as a result of complying with the government to illegally tap citizen's phones. The phrase "state secret" reared its ugly head, too, in this San Francisco district courtroom. An attorney working with EFF laments that if the case against AT&T is lost, it may be the last time that any court challenges the executive branch on warrantless wiretapping.

Any government that withholds information from court, regardless of the context, on the basis that the data withheld constitutes a "state secret" is not merely insidious, and pernicious, but is one that converts justice itself into a dirty bomb.

One can only hope that, on appeal, Mr. Padilla's lawyers will demand declassification of his days in the brig, and that each and every gruesome detail of how he suffered during confinement surfaces, so the word "terrorist" may be seen to mean about as much as the word "Communist" did during the Red scare days of the 1950's; only instead of hiding under a desk in a deserted classroom, justice now hides under the robes of counterfeit judges

Is it ever okay to compromise someone's sanity in the name of combatting an elusive enemy? Do the ends justify the means and, if so, whose ends are we justifying, and by what means? If this is what the framers had in mind by the Bill of Rights, they would have called it the Bill of Wrongs instead.